Patriot Day. I remember where I was 16 years. I was an active duty Captain of the Dental Corps at Ft. Campbell. I arrived that morning later than usual as I skipped PT that day since I played hockey the night before. Was listening to what had happened as I drove in as they music was interrupted to tell us about the breaking news. I got into Kuhn-LaPointe Clinic in time to see the second plane hit. A crusty old Colonel said, “Looks like we’re under attack,” and walked off to our wide mouthed astonishment. Later that day, I was in charge of the dental clinic as all the Colonels went to a meeting. I was under orders to not out-process anyone. A Special Forces soldier later came in and he was oblivious to the day’s events as he was going about post getting his signatures and stamps to Exit The Service. Until he came to see me. I had to inform him that I could not process him and that he had to return to his unit. He colorfully asked to see who was in charge. I told him that it was me and I had to order him to return to his unit. I’ll never forget that, and then working long late hours getting that unit ready to depart in very short order. I often wondered what became of him as I never saw him again and never knew if he was stop-lossed & deployed, got out, etc.
It has happened again. I went to Haiti with the Dental Care for Children group over Labor Day for another mission trip. After we left, another hurricane passed through. Last year, weeks after we left it was Matthew and he did damage to Les Cayes. This year, days after we departed, Irma passed by but was kinder to that city than Matthew was last year when it took the brunt of the storm.
Every trip is different, I’m learning. This time we only had 15 people as opposed to more last year. We often had issues with equipment as it seems everyone’s chair was down at some point (mine was on Sunday morning/afternoon) yet we still set a record for number of patients treated! I returned with Dr. Grace Lee of Grace Dental here in town as well as a hygienist from Dr. Harper’s office, Deloris Jackson. Both these women are amazing. They’ve been more involved than I and Mrs. Jackson has even been to other nations on other continents as well doing this type of work, establishing her own clinics there. WOW!
It is hard to work in the heat with equipment that doesn’t do what you want, with donated bits and whatnot. But, the gratitude of the people who recognize such a commodity is amazing! They don’t have much, but are always thankful to God for the blessings he sends whether it is food, clothes, or medical/dental care. It is quite humbling to witness. By the way, I do not recommend getting ill in tropical heat. That’s quite the way to get dehydrated!
I’m grateful I got to work again with Guzman, my translator/dental assistant. He seems to be doing well and I got to meet some of his family this time too! He and others were a big reason why we got going sooner as they set up a great majority of things before we got there.
What a hectic month it has been! Sometimes I feel like I am overwhelmed with things to do but at the same time I’m overwhelmed by great employees.
What have I been doing? I’ve been to some continuing education courses, finished rewriting a textbook chapter on nitrous oxide and oxygen sedation, work, winning a hockey tournament, getting ready to return to Haiti, just life in general.
I’ve said before that I love hiring people in August. It is still true. My Office Manager, Jennifer, has now been here TEN years! There are not enough wonderful things to say about her as she took over a crate full of lemons and made lemonade! She does so much that I wish I could clone her. And in this age of technology, she’s had to be very fluid in her tasks as technology has changed, insurance companies and how they conduct business has changed, marketing has changed. And she’s had to put up with me as well! We make a great team and I’ll generally consult her before doing anything major because she’s earned the trust and respect. Thank you so very much!
Also, Tracie, my head hygienist, has now been here eleven years. I gushed about her more last year at her ten year mark. Someone has said that retaining good employees that long is a credit to me. I don’t know about that. I treat people nicely, with respect, and help them grow in their position while giving them enough autonomy to do what they need to do. Maybe the credit is to them for putting up with me, or their generational tendencies, or whatever, but I know at the end of the day, it’s largely them. Those two ladies (and the others like Amy and MoiRa, both May hires and Lana-another August hire) are the reason why we are all here and having fun… and doing some dentistry as well.